Jan 19, 2013 1:30pm PST
ms. america. but for most of her early life, alexis weinman spent her time alo alone. >> i was very quiet, because i couldn't say anything right. i was picked on for the way i spoke. i really didn't have any friends. >> reporter: her parents knew there was something wrong but their small town of cutbank, montana, didn't have the resources to help figure out what it was. and then at the age of 11, after years and years of searching for answers, a doctor finally put a name to wineman's condition. pervasive development disorder. a mild form of autism. typically children with autism are very intelligent. but very quiet. socially awkward. and they don't respond appropriately to interactions with other people. typically, they don't end up becoming beauty queens, either. but wineman says one day she simply decided not to let her condition define her. >> i wanted to accept myself and my autism. and i realized that my autism isn't what defines me. i define what is autism. >> reporter: she entered the ms. montana pageant as a way to prove to herself she could do anything she set her mind to.